Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

The demand for plant-based products is increasing with the growing number of vegetarians and vegans. Statutory regulations regarding the production and labelling of vegetarian/vegan food are currently not existing in Germany or the EU. In order to increase clarity for both manufacturers and consumers, the German Consumer Protection Ministers have submitted a draft proposal for a legally binding definition of the terms "vegan" and "vegetarian" which is supposed to serve as a rule in the future. Apart from that, a V label of the European Vegetarian Union is currently used voluntarily for vegetarian and vegan foodstuffs.

Still, vegetarian and vegan products are a challenge to food manufacturers not only when it comes to naming the food product. Vegetarian products are often manufactured based on soy, egg or wheat. These are allergenic ingredients demanding increased controls in the production process. Furthermore, some additives and carriers are animal-based and thus not destined for vegetarian products.

Vegetarianism and veganism as a result of growing awareness in society

With health and life awareness growing, the number of vegetarians in Germany is increasing constantly. According to the German Association of Vegetarians (VEBU), just under 10 % of the German population are vegetarian and 1.1 % are vegan. A vegetarian diet is based on foods of plant origin, including products that are gained from living animals. These include milk, eggs and honey, as well as mushrooms and foods gained from bacteria cultures. Meat, fish and secondary products, such as gelatine or lard are avoided. Vegetarianism is divided into four additional forms, with the vegan diet being the most widely spread. Veganism avoids all foods of animal origin.

Current definitions

The German Consumer Protection Ministers suggested a draft proposal defining vegetarian and vegan food as follows:

Vegan food

  • Not allowed: any food originating from animals (meat, fish, milk, eggs, honey) including additives, vitamins, carriers, processing aids, or enzymes
  • Allowed: only products of purely plant origin; microbiologically produced ingredients, salt, mushrooms

Vegetarian food

  • Additionally allowed: milk, colostrum, farmed eggs, honey, beeswax, propolis and products derived from these foods